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tv   Mosaic World News  LINKTV  November 8, 2012 7:30pm-7:55pm PST

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>> down through history, all people have struggled for land. in israel, however, the struggle takes on yet another dimension. somehow, the land is infused with the holy, and the quest for sovereignty, for political peace, is wrapped up in identity and relationship. in fact, as we talk to religious leaders, political leaders, and the average person on the street, we'll find out that sorting out this difficult and tangled issue over land is really the key to pce in israel in the future. in order to get a better understanding of land issues in israel, we were very fortunate to speak with dr. menachem lorberbaum at the hartman institute, where he's director of the center for jewish political thought. this center provides a voice of reason and passionate understanding in a society that is increasingly polarized by issues over land, religion, the ethical dimension, and its impact on society. >> well, the issue
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of land has been an issue for a century also in the zionist movement. first of all, sovereignty needs territory. sovereignty presumes territory. and therefore, the question of territory was one that came hand in hand with the zionists' dream of creating a sovereign state. now the question of the- "which land? how much land?" is a question that's been going on for a century, and it should be put in perspective, because what we're seeing now is the latest chapter following the six day war of an ongoing discussion of the century. the discussion began a century ago when theodore herzl proposed his uganda plan, which was to say if the idea of zionism is basically to alleviate the situation of jews in europe, which already people felt a century ago to be untenable,
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then any land would do- uganda as well as palestine- of the time. and this provoked the first great debate within the zionist movement between those who are for seeking sovereignty in the land of israel, and those who said, well, sovereignty can be achieved elsewhere too. this was the first big territorial debate. then the next phase was in the thirties when the british proposed their first division of what was then palestine, which included both banks of the jordan river, the east bank and the west bank of the jordan river, and to divide it into two- the east bank, which will be what we now call jordan, and the west bank, which would be palestine- would be some kind of joint jewish and arab state. this provoked again another big argument within the settlement
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then in the land of israel among those who said, "only the entirety of the land," and those who said, "well, better some of it rather than the entire bit." and then the six day war is just another phase in this ongoing argument. the same argument went on also in 1948, and the decision to the partition the land again into two states- a jewish state and a palestinian state. and in 1967, following the six day war, when israel occupied the west bank, the issue became an issue again. do we see the west bank as part of the state of israel, or not? this is of course speaking from the israeli point of view. so this has been an ongoing debate within zionism. now its unique religious flavor is really a matter of the past 25 years, where the question of the status of the west bank was viewed
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also by some groups in religious terms- that is to say, some of the religious zionists saw the project- the zionists said, "it's not only the creation of a state and sovereignty, but also redemption of land." and for them, the return to the land, the redemption of the land, was seen as part of a larger messianic scheme. now here, on the other hand, you have two other religious voices- the ultra-orthodox and anti-zionists- which do not, at least initially, did not see any messianic significance in the state of israel, nor in the redemption of the land. but they said, "that time will come, and we will know when it does come. but it hasn't arrived yet." most of them view themselves as living in exile
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within the land of israel. as a footnote, it's important to say that there are, though, maybe changes in their worldview, and they have shifted on the issue when- some of them have shifted much closer to the religious zionists. and then you have groups of religious zionists who are completely against- or completely reject a messianic interpretation of the significance of the state of israel- the significance of the state of israel is worldly, not religious. and the jews have a problem with existence anywhere else in the world, and the only place where we can have the dignity of self-defense and the freedom and liberty of running our lives as we believe to be, the way is here in a state of our own. so this is a deep argument going on for many years within the religious world of israel.
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>> i work with jews and christians. and there is no problem to live with jews and problems to live with political policy aside and to live together. christian and muslims never had problem to live together. in syria, live and learn. in iraq, they live together, so it's not a problem. the problem is when one is wanting to reign and to control- that's a problem. if the jews can trust to share with us the holy land, it's okay. but not to control, not to reign, not to occupy, not to, you know, humiliate people, like what's going on in the west bank. >> and it's hard to believe that when somebody will take his
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land to give up and to say, "okay, let's have peace, and our land is with them," it's so difficult to believe, and if we look here, and the mountains that is our land here, and israel. they take and give to the jews, from our land. it's difficult to have peace in that situation. how could i trust them when they just all the time try constantly to humiliate and to expand, and just in that point of view, how can we trust them and have peace? >> but this is a central problem of our life here, there's no doubt, and i'll answer for myself and not as a spokesperson for the institute right now. in my opinion, the only basis for a solution in relations between palestinians and jews in the land of israel is a partition
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into two states, and let me explain. originally, in 1947, the united nations called upon a division, or called for a division of the land of israel into two states. the tragedy of our situation in the land here is that we have two people, both of whom have just claims for sovereignty. it's a tragedy because both claims are just. and therefore, it seems to me that the only way out is to allow for both peoples to have the expression of their sovereignty- that is the only way around. and i think it's not only a matter of justice, i believe it's also a matter of israel's political interest to pursue this path. it's been a path that's all too often been rejected by both sides. it was rejected in 1947
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by the palestinians. it was rejected after 1967 by many israelis. but i think today there are enough palestinians and enough israelis that realize that this is the only path in which to go, in which each people has its right. >> he said one thing. i'm sorry. >> go ahead. fire away, virginia. >> the dignity of self-defense. do i or any of us realize how people who are not allowed to say, "no, that's not right," must feel about this chance to say, "wait, i have my rights," which they don't feel they have now. >> and they don't, and that takes us to the heart of this ethical dilemma. i mean, i don't know how many of you are old enough to remember the "the twilight zone," you know, but i almost feel like, you know, if god wanted
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to take humans and say, "i'm going to give you the ethical challenge of your life. bam!" right into israel into this situation. now figure this one out"- did you catch the complexity, even with judaism? you know, the religious zionists, the religious anti-zionists, the secular nationalists, the religious secular anti-zionist zionists. it's like i don't know, it's out of monty python. yeah, go ahead. >> so if they decided that they should be two separate states, then i guess the idea is they're both fighting over the same little bit of land- they all want jerusalem or something? >> well, it's very complex, but in a nutshell, to kind of give you the overview, you know, what we have here, and this came out of the- one of the things that i really love about this profession and at least the freedom i have at western to teach, is that i can create or resurrect classes- and i wanted to know more about judaism, so i put together a semester-length class on judaism and much of this comes out. well, of course,
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everyone is familiar with the holocaust, but the history of the jews is just enormous irony and suffering, and it's just overwhelming. but to come back here quickly to the situation, the zionist movement, as dr. lorberbaum says, you know, starts roughly around 1897 and works in many different facets. the one most interesting, i think, is there was a strong group that wanted no part of israel, particularly- "let's just get some land!" and they were looking in africa and other places, south america. what happens, though, is with lots of complex pressures- the holocaust, the end of world war ii, political struggles all over the world, and struggles on the part of the people already in israel, the jews- well, we get a state in 1948. now the struggle continues. i love dr. lorberbaum's word- "well, the argument continues." well, you know, there's a lot of bullets and blood and bombs flying through this argument. but what we experienced,
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to whisk it up to the present- we had the '67 war, you know, the war in the early '70s- to whisk it into the present, what we find is it comes down to human beings. many jews we met who obviously have the power, and from the muslim perspective, are seen as being supported and propped up by the united states, which makes us part of the enemy in that thing. but nevertheless, many jews like lorberbaum are very open to dialogue, and even what he said is extremely controversial- coming out in favor of partitioning of the land. but what you see on a day-to-day basis- and we experienced this; we walked around with arab christians and muslim arabs- still, there's a nasty habit, because the israelis have the power of saying, "no, we're not taking any more land. but oh, this group from russia has come in, or this group of jews have come in. i'm sorry, but we're taking this mountain." i mean, we heard over and over, "you see that community up there on that hill? well, a year ago, that was arab territory."
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there's still this business of, "sorry, you have to move on." and when you think about the situation of the indigenous peoples of this continent and how, "well, here's your reservation. no, i'm going to move further"- they're still getting pushed around, and that's messing with their mind, ethically. yeah, janet? >> right now what they're doing, i think, is they're refusing construction permits for palestinian houses, so you can't add a room addition on to your house while they're building those new subdivisions for the other people. so they're squeezing them that way- they're saying, "well, we don't care if your son or daughter got married and now you need more- no, you can't build onto your house." >> and as virginia said, it's not having rights, and without rights, you can't obey your obligations, you can't obey your responsibilities, and it puts you in ethical conflict right there. now to get in this extraordinary material we have, hold onto the questions. i want to kind of shift ground somewhat ethically but geographically
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over to egypt, because as you know, we went there. now we have a unique situation in israel that, as we've said, creates all kinds of fascinating but somewhat negative issues regarding ethics. egypt was a different story, because here, we have a predominantly muslim country. now you know, i'm sure you're well aware of that. in egypt- i mean, in israel, the political power is held by the jews; as we heard, the christians are a minority, even christian arabs, and they don't know what they're doing even with a partition. but in egypt, obviously, we have a muslim majority. now what happens here is we had a fascinating interview with reverend noor. we've already seen coptic christians that have for centuries well beyond the muslims, before the muslims enjoyed something of a, you know, left alone for the most part, allowed to exist. but we have protestant christians actually in egypt,
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and we had a chance to chat with reverend noor who heads up an evangelical protestant church there- a world renowned figure on the level of billy graham in that part of the country, and to hear his struggle. i'll tell you- well, let me set it up this way, to show you that, again, how the conflicts exist in a place where you have one dominant religion and then minority religions. we walked in to meet this fellow and it was the end of our trip, and we were not aware of what a prestigious person this was, what a major world religious leader this was. and so we stumble into his office, we're nice enough, he's very polite, he allows us to set up, and we're just getting ready for the interview, and this man, this religious leader, this author of hundreds of books, suddenly breaks down into tears- he starts crying right there. and we're going, you know, "what? what's going on?" well, it turns out he'd just received a phone call, and a muslim who had converted to christianity- and as many
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of you may know, that can call, in some instances, for a death sentence- a muslim who was trying to leave the country, one of his follows had just been picked up at the cairo airport and the police had him. and the man, this powerful religious leader is crying- no power again, you know, to go back to it. so let's hear a couple of words from reverend noor, a protestant christian in cairo, egypt. >> egypt is obviously a predominantly muslim country, but within egypt is a smaller christian minority in the coptic church, but even a smaller minority in the protestant evangelical church of reverend menes abdul noor. reverend noor is a world-famous spokesperson for protestant christianity, and he heads the kasr el-doubara evangelical church. >> you know, to be a christian and a minority group, this is something americans cannot understand. but to be always a second-class citizen, always to lose your job because you are a christian,
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always you are not promoted simply because you are a christian- your faith costs you something- so you cling to christ. so the catholics of egypt and orthodox of egypt as well as the protestants of egypt being under pressure all the time, discriminated against because of their faith, their faith must mean something to them- they are willing to pay for it. and those who are willing to pay for it and not to convert to islam under the pressure of poverty or lack of promotion, they must have a personal relationship with god- sacrament first or agent first- there is that living experience. the coptic church always puts emphasis on repentance, and repentance is in your life- one turns his back to sin and his face to god. so i think that they have that beautiful link between a person and christ under the pressure,
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and with the teaching, even if it is not as clear as protestants bring up justification by faith. >> see, that's a very remarkable spin on being a minority in a country with a dominant religion. as our conversation went on, he was saying something along the lines of, "you americans who are christian, you don't appreciate your christianity because it comes so easy." here- and he went on and on about this in a wonderful talk after we were off camera- there's a huge pressure, and has been since the entrance of islam into egypt. you know, here in the seventh century, there's incredible pressure to convert to islam. you could still be a second-class citizen, but you don't have the power- you are second class. and the problem here is- i mean, it's a somewhat cheery spin on it because he says, "well, that makes our religion more intense for us." but at the same time, this is a man,
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you saw him composed, but when we walked in, he was a man in tears from an experience that brought out that second-class citizenship. to put it in terms of, you know, our ethical conflicts, well, you know, how, in a world of religion that, once again, is trying to support the ideals, how do you go about realizing those ideals if politically you are pressured into a negative situation? i don't know. but one last roll-in that is, again, one of the more remarkable ones. reverend noor is a christian. he is challenged in his conception and his quest for the christian life by a role that limits his possibilities, but he struggles against it. but what of a muslim? what of a muslim in cairo? is there ethical struggles? is there ethical dilemmas that a young muslim has to go through in trying to realize-
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in this case his- his own proper patterns of action? what's the good life for him? now, to some extent, this happens in all cultures, because he's a young person trying to make sense of life. but what akmad- who we interviewed- what he brings out is that even within islam- i mean, you may be well familiar with this- but even within islam in egypt, there is major conflicts. and to put a little bit of a background on it, when we were in egypt, there were very, very few tourists there because not shortly before, the tourists in luxor had been mowed down by machine guns. and what's fueling this, of course, is the quest by fundamentalist, traditionalist muslims to overthrew what they perceive as the secular regime of mombaric. and more and more, akmad, this young person, is feeling that pressure- the pressure of the old, the old traditional, those very rigid ethical
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patterns of action that come out and are guided by the sharia and define the social dimension, he feels that pressure. so let's hear here from akmad, a young student we interviewed in cairo. >> we've explored interfaith tensions between jews, christians, and muslims in the middle east, but there are also intrafaith tensions- that means tensions within a single faith; in this case, islam. we spoke with a young student, akmad, who describes his frustrations being a young person- a muslim- living in a decidedly religious society. could you give us just a couple of examples of things you'd like to do on your own time in cairo that you can't do because islamic doctrine prevents you from doing it? >> [speaking in arabic] >> maybe i intend to have one of my friend's cars and we go together
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and smoke cigarettes and have a girl with us in the car and have some wine. this is all strictly forbidden in islam. >> [speaking in arabic] >> rich people, they don't think, so they don't have these problems, because they can go without anybody, their cars and their houses and so. but he's talking about the poor people, the poor population. >> the poor people don't have as much freedom. you know, all they have is islam. >> they have no freedom at all. >> that's a very interesting comment that cuts through all cultures- the poor are more interested in protecting the faith, while the rich are free to do what they want. >> [speaking in arabic] >> no, it's never- it's not right. always the rich person is less concerned about religion like the poor one,
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for some psychological reasons. >> [speaking in arabic] >> the rich person doesn't have to worry because he has a lot of money. but the poor, he doesn't have a car, he doesn't have a house, he doesn't have food, so he's not living at all. so he looks for life in the hereafter. but the rich person is already living here. >> now if by chance you were to go home and say to your father that, "i'm going to convert to christianity," what would he say? >> [speaking arabic] >> he won't say- he will do. >> and we don't want to know what. [laughter] >> yeah, that definitely was a
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remarkable piece of footage. and you never knew, he was very afraid to do that. we actually did it out on the balcony in the hotel, and there was somebody up on the higher balconies looking down, and i just hope everything's okay for him, because he was obviously under a lot of pressure. sure, virginia? >> you asked a very interesting question, because it is my understanding, and from the observations i made from contacts, even at 75 years of age, if his father's still alive, the father will tell him what to do and he'll do it. muslims, it's the father who has power, and the child does not go against it. i rode over on british air and the man next to me was in his forties- he's a doctor in england, had been sent over to get educated and stayed because it was so much better than going back to pakistan. he was going home. his fa